As soon as the word “virus” appears in a conversation, there’s a sense of unease, awkwardness or even panic. For good reason: being associated with contagious behaviour, viruses affect the state of equilibrium and often make the host unwell. In a similar way to the biological world, there are worms and viruses (and many other concepts inspired by nature and the animal kingdom) in the realm of digital. Needless to say, the fear of a computer virus infecting other computers through the network is similar to the fear of being infected by a disease. Especially when we consider our personal devices, which could be described as an extension of ourselves.
Scientists argue that viruses have been crucial to our evolution – the constant battle between pathogens and their hosts has long been recognised as a key driver behind evolution. Similarly, within the realm of computing, viral infection is inseparable from the field of cyber security. By constantly testing and improving, cyber security measures strengthen network health, negotiate infection and ensure the safety of data. Besides, viral methodologies play a huge role in the evolution of our habits and behaviours in and outside of the digital realm. These behaviours or habits might be mainly linked to consumerism, with a lot of them now strongly rooted in our way of living. Just like the biological virus, which infects one cell and then replicates to take over a whole group of cells, viral marketing material is sent first to a few users who pass on information further, and so the message spreads exponentially.